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Yale Writers' Workshop 2023 Course Descriptions 

On-Campus Workshop June 3 - June 10

In the on-campus Workshop you will participate in workshops, lectures, individual conferences and readings intended to broaden your understanding of the craft of writing. This is an immersive experience on Yale’s lovely New Haven campus. The writing conversations extend from the classroom to the dining hall. Visiting faculty will deliver craft talks to all workshop participants. Because we write to be read, we will have panels of agents and editors to provide insight into the publishing process and the realities of the writer’s life. Writers are invited to participate in open mics and a formal reading of their work. During the session, faculty will hold half-hour, one-to-one meetings with participants. Plus, participate in an experiential writing adventure.

Virtual Workshop June 11 - June 17

The one-week Workshop is intended for writers concentrating on a specific genre. Over seven days, you will meet in a seminar with fellow writers, led by a faculty member established in the field. The seminar will include exercises and readings as well as discussion of student work with eye toward revision. During the week, faculty will hold half-hour, one-to-one meetings with participants. Plus, the one-week workshop includes an agent panel and meetings for writers with completed manuscripts! You are invited to participate in open mics and a formal reading of their work.

Workshops 2023 

  •  Children and Young Adult
  •  Short Story/Novel Excerpt
  •  First Ten Pages
  •  Personal Essay/Memoir
  •  Write Here, Write Now

Alumni Workshop: Work-in-Progress Intensive 

Offered for YWW alumni only, this two-week workshop allows alumni to work with an instructor on a work in progress.

Young Yale Writers' Workshop July 9 - July 14

Writers chose from one of four genres: fiction, nonfiction, poetry or graphic storytelling. We have capped the workshops at 12 writers per genre to ensure all voice are heard. Participants attend talks on the craft of writing, genre workshops, open mics, faculty and visiting author readings, student readings, and learn about careers in writing.

Fiction

Sybil Baker

In addition to workshopping each participant’s story or novel excerpt, we will also have mini-craft sessions, where we work on and discuss issues such as reading like a writer, dialogue, scene building, as well as short story and novel structure and development. We’ll also work on writing exercises and revision strategies to take with you after you leave YWW. Short stories and novel excerpts are welcome.

Jotham Burrello

Read, Workshop, Revise, Repeat. The classroom is our lab to experiment and take risks on the page. In this seminar writers will complete assigned craft essays and stories prior to arriving in New Haven. In workshop we’ll establish a supportive environment, and together we’ll discuss stories in the first three sessions and then dedicate time to revision exercises, reading work aloud, journaling and discussion of craft, with a special emphasis on scene building and voice. Expect to write during the conference. Writers will leave with a revision strategy for their manuscript, and a full toolbox of ideas and techniques to help write the next one. Short stories or excerpts welcome.

Molly Gaudry

For this workshop, you may submit a wide range of fiction forms—traditional short stories or novel chapters, stories toward a novel-in-stories, interconnected flash fictions, flash fictions that stand alone, even fragmented or braided narratives. Submit a manuscript of up to 3,000 words, and plan to read and discuss a variety of published works as models for your own revisions. You will leave our time together eager to get back to work on your own revisions, able to apply knowledge and skills developed at Yale to your future writing projects, and with a clearer understanding of the functional relationship between form and content.

Lisa Page

“Everything comes from language. Plot is a juvenile idea.” Colum McCann. 
Language is the engine that drives the literary train. This fiction workshop will emphasize voice, persona, style, dialogue, tone and setting. It will also focus on narrative arc because, while plot may be a “juvenile idea,” it’s also a necessary one. This workshop will embrace novels-in-progress, short stories and flash fiction. It will also incorporate writing exercises designed to generate new work.

Sergio Troncoso

Our Fiction Workshop will focus on a detailed review of novel chapters, short stories, flash fiction, and other fictional narratives. Writers will receive practical critiques to create tailored strategies for rewriting. The class will work collaboratively on exercises to sharpen writing skills as well to create new work. We will examine what makes a great sentence and paragraph, and consider narrative voice, narrative suspense, and metaphor in fiction. As homework, we will also be reading accomplished writers to study their craft. Our goals? Dedicate ourselves to creating a community in the service of the writing craft, while all workshop members receive the individual time and focus necessary to take their writing to the next level.

Non-fiction

Mary Collins

Use the power of narrative nonfiction to process your life, your ideas, and our changing society. This workshop will highlight fundamental storytelling techniques, the unique challenges you face when writing about yourself (and people you know!) and how to control voice (including humor). We'll workshop your submission but also your revision in a quick-paced, high-energy environment. The course can accommodate students working on books as well as those new to the form and experimenting with the art of the essay or short pieces of nonfiction.

Mishka Shubaly

We understand fiction to be made-up and nonfiction to be true. But any linear narrative is a human construction, as life explodes constantly in all directions. Any first person narrative is a distorted, imperfect retelling from one limited perspective. To make it more confusing, Grace Paley's fiction and Lucia Berlin's autofiction overflow with truth while Mary Karr's and Harry Crews' memoirs seem too wild or too evocative to be true. Where's the line? How much can we get away with? How can anyone tell “true” stories? This workshop will locate the emotional heart of your narrative, then identify and amplify the truth that spills from it. We’ll be aided in our quest by readings across genre, songs, jokes, and other real-life texts.

Intensive

Kirsten Bakis

Work-In-Progress Intensive. This unique two-week workshop is designed for writers working on book-length material taught by YWW faculty member Kirsten Bakis. This cohort of just eight writers will meet and write for two weeks. This program is open to YWW alumni only. In week one, writers will critique 7000 words from their fellow writers’ manuscripts. Exercises and readings will be assigned prior to arrival. Week two will be generative, a mini-retreat if you will, with writers developing new material, and reading back at least 1500 words in session. The cohort will meet virtually to discuss progress, and strategies to completing confident first drafts.

Jacquelyn Mitchard

The Novel Intensive taught by YWW faculty member and bestselling novelist Jacquelyn Mitchard will meet on campus June 3-9, 2023, then convene for three subsequent online sessions. Eight writers with a book-length project in various stages of completion will begin with a critique of 5000 words from their fellow writers’ manuscripts and go on to generating at least 1500 words of new material over the course of the seminar, along with targeted exercises focusing on each aspect of the novel, from bold openings to symphonic conclusions. They will learn strategies for maintaining momentum and suspense throughout the narrative, considering such elements as structure, characterization, pacing and dialogue, sharing and encouraging one another’s progress. Readings will be assigned prior to arrival on campus as well as during the session. Admission will be by invitation, from submitted excerpts.

Children and Young Adult

Sarah Darer Littman

"Any book that can help you survive the slings and arrows of adolescence is a book to love for life.” Libba Bray.

In a supportive environment, you’ll be asked to get in touch with your inner adolescent. We’ll discuss Dr. Rudine Syms Bishop’s concept of providing young people with "Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Glass Doors”  and explore how structure, voice, point of view, pacing, and most importantly, authenticity combine to hook the reader. Participants in past workshops have continued to work together as critique groups, providing an ongoing source of feedback and encouragement.

First Ten Pages: Fiction and Memoir

LaTanya McQueen

The first five to ten pages of a novel or memoir often determine whether an agent, editor, or reader wants to see more of your work. Whether you are just beginning a project or revising the manuscript for the fifth time, chances are your first ten pages could still use revision and feedback at the sentence and content level. In addition to getting feedback on your own work, during this course we will look at openings of published novels and memoirs, and discuss what makes those openings work. Both genres share many successful craft fundamentals. We will also spend time in class sessions discussing and applying revision strategies for the beginning of your work.

Personal Essay / Memoir

Amy Shearn

Everyone has a story to tell -- but that doesn't always mean it's easy to write it. Personal essay and memoir demand the literary toolkit of fiction-writing along with a strong voice and sense of purpose. Writers in this workshop will discuss each other's work and that of published authors, with a focus on how to tell great stories while also being thoughtful in the way we write about true events and actual people. Participants will also generate new work throughout the workshop.

Short Stories / Novel Excerpts

Christina Chiu

We all know to show and not tell. But what does that really mean?  In this workshop, we will look closely at scene and scene building. The first scene sets the story in motion. It’s a small snowball at the peak of a steep mountain that you tap over the side. Then, each scene builds on the other. The story grows and gathers speed, and the force and momentum continues until it crescendoes to its inevitable finale. We will discuss how to create scenes that truly propel the narrative forward, using everything from dialogue to metaphor to telling detail. We will read scenes from stories and novel excerpts for strategies and methods authors utilize in their work, and examine the scenes you write, to sharpen and shape your work.

Ethan Rutherford

“The two things I want are interesting language and genuine feeling.”—Amy Hempel

In this workshop, open to all forms of fiction, our questions will be: what makes this piece successful?  What makes it interesting / compelling / unique?  What choices is the author making, and to what effect?  We’ll focus on style and structure, look closely at the way language is mobilized, how characters are created, how voice is deployed. Generative writing exercises and revision strategies will be incorporated in every session. The point here is to not only get you writing, but to help you become a better, more thoughtful reader of your own work. Writers will complete reading prior to workshop.

Write Here, Write Now

Patricia Ann McNair

Whether you are new to the writing workshop experience or are coming back to it after timeaway, the process-based activities in this course will help you identify and discover thestories you have to tell and to write. If you are eager to make new work or to reinvigorateon-going or left-behind projects, this workshop is for you. Drawing from memory,imagination, and observation, you will discover your unique material and a variety of ways of telling, structure, and form. And you will write! From autobiographical pieces to imaginednew worlds, these explorations will feed the muse. Workshop members will receive anassignment to complete and email to instructor before the workshop begins. There will be NO critique of peers's; work prior to arrival. Time will be spent creating instead; you will writenew pages and develop strategies to keep going.